New Parkinson’s Research Links Disease to Gut Health

by Hilary Young on January 23, 2017

New Parkinson’s Research Links Disease to Gut Health

It is estimated that as many as 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease each year. With both Michael J. Fox  and the late Mohammed Ali living in the spotlight with Parkinson’s Disease, they were able to shed some light shed on the  Disease and it’s devastating effects on the human body.

And while there is still no definitive cure for Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s research continues to work towards the goal of finding one. And it’s through those efforts that scientists have recently discovered that although Parkinson’s symptoms are primarily on motor function, the disease may actually stem from dysfunction in the gut.

Parkinson’s Research for Early Detection

The new study, which was presented at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, was both a nationally and privately funded worldwide research effort. Scientists working on this study from all over the world discovered that Parkinson’s may be derived from an unlikely place: the gut.

Gut bacteria has been a central focus for researchers across many different diseases over the past few years, and now they have found that it might also be linked to a Parkinson’s Disease cause. This new Parkinson’s Disease study aimed to explore “whether clumps of alpha-synuclein, called fibrils, could spread from the gut to the brain, potentially via the vagus nerve, which is involved in controlling peripheral organs like the liver and the spleen.” Their findings were positive.

Researchers have known for over a decade that one of the early Parkinson’s symptoms is constipation and changes in digestive health. These changes have been reported in people living with Parkinson’s Disease as much as ten years prior to tremors appearing. By testing their theory with mice, researchers found that gut dysfunction, specifically synuclein fibres, travel from the gut to the brain, causing the neurological damage that leads to the loss of motor function that you develop with Parkinson’s Disease.

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Early Parkinson’s Symptoms

Tremors are not necessarily the first sign of Parkinson’s Disease. These are some of the early symptoms to look for, according to the National Parkinson’s Foundation:

  • Small Handwriting. While some people naturally have small handwriting, if you notice a marked change in your handwriting--where it appears smaller, or words appear more crowded on the page--then it may be an early Parkinson’s symptom.
  • Loss of Smell. Loss of smell is also a reported early sign of Parkinson’s Disease. Considering the Parkinson’s research about gut health mentioned above, experts believe that there may be a connection to environmental toxins that cause the changes in smell and gut health.
  • Constipation. As the Parkinson’s research study on gut health showcased, constipation and changes in digestive health is an early sign of the disease.
  • A Low Voice. If people have been telling you recently to speak up or that your voice is too soft or hoarse, it may be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. Experts believe this symptom is due to early loss of motor function and muscle loss.
  • Dizziness or Fainting. It’s not uncommon to have dizzy spells or begin fainting at the beginning stages of the disease. This is attributed to low blood pressure, which is a common occurrence with Parkinson’s.
  • Should you be experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, be sure to speak with your physician about them immediately and talk about the next steps to take should it, in fact, be Parkinson’s Disease.

    Looking Forward, Staying Safe

    Until a definitive cure is discovered for those living with Parkinson’s Disease, Medical Guardian can provide round the clock medical monitoring services for those living with the disease, in case of emergencies.

    TAGS: Parkinson’s research Parkinson’s disease cause Parkinson’s symptoms